In the wake of Brexit, Trump and the French election, online gambling sites have been inundated with individuals looking to place a political punt. And now that Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat has called a snap election to be held on 3 June., enterprising individuals have yet another opportunity to get involved
So, What Do You Need To Know Before You Bet On The Maltese General Election?
Unlike the rest of the eurozone countries, Malta’s parliament is relatively straightforward. In short, Malta elects 65 officials from 15 constituencies, and they serve for a full term of five years in the House of Representatives. The system uses the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) system with the voting age set at 18. The two key groups leading the discussion are the Labour Party (PL) headed by current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the Nationalist Party (PN) headed by Simon Busuttil. There are also a number of smaller parties such as the Democratic Party, Alternattiva Demokratika, and Moviment Patrijtti Maltin.
Until recently, Muscat has been sitting pretty, but over the past four years the country has hit a €100m budgetary surplus, while unemployment has reached a record low and growth has peaked at just 3.5 per cent. Then in 2015, the Panama Papers revealed a series of scandals within the Labour Party. Muscat and two of his cabinet members, Konrad Mizzi, and Keith Scehmbri, were linked to these two companies. Muscat reshuffled his cabinet following a public outcry and Mizzi lost his position as minister of Health and Energy as a result. More recently, the scandal has intensified to the point where the PM’s wife has been dragged into the scandal as the alleged owner of ‘Egrant’, one of the shell corporations at the heart of the Panama Papers. She has strenuously denied these claims, despite a number of leaks which claim otherwise.
These scandals have been particularly damning as Malta is the only EU country that has a minister embroiled in the Panama Papers lead, and Malta currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Unsurprisingly, Busuttil has latched onto the scandals as a key part of his campaign, and he has promised that the Nationalist Party can restore Malta’s credibility on the world stage. However, he has not been immune to money laundering issues himself, with the party facing its own accusations of mis-managed donation funds.
While this pales in comparison to Labour’s travails, the election is far from a shoo-in. In fact, Labour is very much odds-on favourite to win another term.
All of this boils down to a heated race where both sides will do anything to make sure that their side wins.
So, with the threat of scandal, ingenious political manoeuvring, and revelation after revelation, is it worth placing a punt against Muscat?
Since the Panama scandal erupted, local bookies have been scrabbling over each other to get in on the action. The illegal betting circuit has been taking punts hand-over-fist, with one self-described bookie taking €108,000 in bets in just six days.
Malta based BiM Sports has set current odds at PL: 1.01, PN: 10.00, with an Asian Handicap also available to makes the odds more appealing.
But, a week is a long time in politics and with three more weeks to go, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the latest bets online.
Where Can You Place A Bet?
When it comes to taking political bets, the larger international companies are more focused on the more controversial political events such as the abdication of the Queen or Trump’s impeachment. If you can get good odds, there’s a real chance of making money on the Maltese election:
BiM Sports: As mentioned above this Malta based sportsbook is offering odds of 1.70 on a Labour -15,000 votes handicap or 2.02 for the Nationalist Party with a handicap of +15,000 votes.
Betfair: One of the few major sites to be covering the event, Betfair is offering two strands of punt for the snap election: the party that will win the most seats and the next PM. As of writing, Muscat and Busuttil are the only party leaders that have distinct odds placed against them.
Currently, Betfair’s odds are set at 1.28 for Muscat and 3.10 for Busuttil with Marlene Farrugia, Arnold Cassola and Henry Battistino also available for setting multiples, meaning that a smart punt can pull strong returns.
What Should I Know Before Placing A Punt?
Historic Volatility: Due to the tight timeframe of the election and ongoing inquiries, it is highly likely that there will be a few more revelations to come before people head to the polls. If recent campaigns in the American and Parisian elections are any indicators, there is a strong likelihood of any damning evidence or information being brought to light very close to the voting date to prevent the alleged from having time to respond. Which means, get your votes in early. However, it is worth noting the country’s growth under Labour and the strength of the majority that Muscat’s party was initially elected under should not be underestimated, and recent opinion polls have shown a four-percentage point lead on their opponents.
Voter Fraud Investigation: Malta has also undergone another scandal stemming from issues around identity cards that came out from a leaked internal report. This showed that out of three hundred residents, eighty held more than one ID card, and five individuals held three cards. Extensive cross-referencing will be required to understand how this applies to the populace at large, but this does means that those who hold more than one card can use one vote for every card that they hold; making voter fraud a potential issue for this election. Additional travel arrangements have also been put in place for ex-pats looking to return to Malta to vote, with Air Malta offering €90 return flights for eligible voters. Both of these variables can easily swing the election depending on the demographic which returns to vote and how widespread the identity-card issue is.
How Should I Carry Out My Bet?: When it comes to placing odds on both, one of the best ways to spread your winnings is to deploy Asian Handicap Betting (AHB). Although traditionally used in football, AHB is the perfect pick for electoral punts, helping to maximise your potential of achieving returns before the poll has been conducted.